Mateo and Daddy


Hi, I'm Mark Rios. I'm a triathlete from Northern California. I don't do triathlons to set records. I just do them to stay in shape within my domain of work and family. Before I found triathlon working out was a bit of a chore. But triathons are interesting and keep life interesting because they are simple, yet beautifully complex. In this sport your workouts are different every single day, which is great because it minimizes the chance of burnout and reduces the risk of injury. Also, in my opinion as of current triathlon is still mainly a science and in its infancy. There's still a lot we don't know. So in terms of being sport, it's still evolving (for example a female professional is on course to be just as fast as the fastest male professional triathletes). But my favorite thing about the sport is that it attracts really great people from all walks of life and of all colors. The cliche, "you can't judge a book by its cover", is so true in triathlon. Never have I ever before in my life enjoyed the company of others from so many varied backgrounds. I'm constantly amazed at who participates in this sport. From the stay at home mom to the 80 year old nun. It's just filled with people of great character, those who will amaze you, and make you question your assumptions on life, reality, and what the human body is capable of.

Friday, June 18, 2010

First Bike Crash, Lessons Learned

Riding my bike home from the gym I hit a rock while drafting behind a cyclist. It was a warm summer night, the sun was about an hour from setting. I was feeling great riding on smooth Silva Valley Road in El Dorado Hills. The other rider was just spinning at high rate listening to his Ipod and enjoying the blue sky. We joked a few minutes prior on how the weather was beautiful and how it was a perfect day to ride. It was surely a blessing over the cold spring rains we had earlier during the  year.  We then started heading north. After we passed the library, riding in the bike lane we increased speed. I was drafting behind him, enjoying the pull through the wind, looking forward to eating dinner after a hard workout at the gym. I would be home in a few minutes, and I knew a plate would be waiting for me at the table.

 He then waved his right hand, then motioned towards the ground. By the time I figured out whey he did that it was too little to late and there was no time to make a line adjustment. What I recall was hearing a loud cracking sound upon impact, which was the sound of my front wheel colliding with rock, immediately followed by both my tires blowing out.  Then my vision went into a blur. And then I heard another loud crack which was my helmet hitting the ground, followed by thuds of my body scraping across the ground.   My view of the rider's back tire changed in an instant.  Upon impact I flew off my bike and landed a good 20 to 30 feet from the point impact. In theory in does not sound that bad. But when you consider the fact that I'm a 200 pound man, moving around around 25 mph, flipping over my handle bars it's far from just a minor scratch. As I recall flying through the air prior to the halt, I remember the tip of index finger being ripped off. When I finally came to realizing what had happened, I immediately tried to stand, which is my first instinct after a fall, but this was not like all those other falls. I immediately felt pain on my head, hands, elbows, and buttocks. I had trouble breathing because the wind had been knocked out of me. The impact to my helmet was a hard lashing and my head throbbed as if I'd been hit with a bat. As I looked at bike and its broken parts thrown along the road I was in a daze. Cars were just passing by unaware that I had just crashed. Only I stood there looking at my wounds bleeding and in sever pain. A few seconds later I immediately became sick to my stomach and felt like fainting from the blood, and immense pain. I leaned against a sign post and then had to immediately lay next to the bike on the concrete. I thought for a minute that I had first aid supplies, and that was I prepared. However my right hand was bleeding badly, and was beyond use. There was no way I was capable of accessing the first aid supplies, let alone attending to my wounds. 

Lessons from this event were many.

1. For starters I learned you should never draft behind someone that may not be aware how close you are. In this case it was one hundred percent my fault. Combine the latter with the fact that the warning probably came late due to an Ipod and it was a recipe for disaster.

2. Don't expect motorist to stop after you crash unless you appear very blood and on the ground. I was in a place where drivers eventually started pulling over and asking me for help. However had I not had to laid down getting help from a motorist would have been unlikely. In my case a man who was a former nurse was walking by with his family, he offered and I first denied his help. That was a mistake and he came back to see if I need help again. He stayed with me. He then asked who was the president. What month it was, which I got wrong. And he helped gather my bike and things. The lesson here is that if a person offers you help, accept it! And ask them to make sure you're thinking straight and, or call for help.

3. If you carry first aid don't expect to use it on yourself. After a crash you may be in a daze and in severe pain. Wave someone down if you need to use it.

4. It's difficult describing your location to others after a hard crash. In this case I was in such agony that it took me a few seconds to be able to put the words together necessary to communicate my location.

5. I recommend never riding alone. Having a companion in a severe emergency can save your life.

6. My cell phone was my saving grace. With it I was able to call my wife. She then picked me up and took me to Kaiser emergency for a six hour visit.

7. Don't wear an expensive watch or gps device on your wrist. Its likely it will be sustain some damage from the impact. I recommend mounting any expensive technology behind your bike stem.

8. The road rash tore down to tender tissue. It's been ten days now. And I still have exposed tissue which is prone to infection. Be prepared to have trouble sleeping. Also, be prepared for the ooze that comes out of these wounds, along with the itching associated with healing.

9. I recommend if you have a desk job that you wear full finger gloves. Typing with a reattached finger tip is painful.

10. Don't expect for doctors to discover all the damage to you after a crash. The pain from them scrubbing out road rash with exposed tissue is nauseating. You may feel other shooting pains later on, in unusual places, like your lower back or parts of your body that were not associated with points of impact. In my case I have extreme pain standing up and laying down.

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